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Dartford FC joint-managers Jamie Coyle and Adam Flanagan don't need to worry about interference from the board

By Steve Tervet

Co-chairman Steve Irving says Dartford's new joint-managers will be given time and space to get things right.

Former players Jamie Coyle and Adam Flanagan have returned to Princes Park with the Darts at something of a crossroads following defeat in the National League South play-offs.

Ryan Hayes, Lyle Della-Verde and Nathan Collier are the first players to depart but if there is a rebuilding job to be done, the pair will be allowed to do it their way.

Dartford joint-managers Jamie Coyle and Adam Flanagan with co-chairman Steve Irving
Dartford joint-managers Jamie Coyle and Adam Flanagan with co-chairman Steve Irving

Mr Irving said: "It is a transition but the challenge is one they relish because they are still so in love with the club and what we offer - not just facilities but as a fanbase and a group of people they feel they can work with.

"Both of them have had challenges over the years with their previous clubs and interference from within those clubs and they relish the opportunity of having a club like Dartford they can work with, that they know they can take forward with massive support around them from directors and supporters."

Dartford had interest in the manager's job from as far afield as Iceland with some well-known local candidates also in the frame.

So what made Coyle and Flanagan the best men for the job?

Mr Irving said: "Their qualifications, their enthusiasm and the challenge to take a club like Dartford on, knowing them as well as we do, having played between them 260 games for us, winning championships with us.

"Knowing the infrastructure and how we work and the challenge of taking us forward far outweighed any finanical reward or gain.

"We've made it clear to them our vision is to get back into the National League as quickly as possible. We want to be challenging for it this coming season and they have no fear of that."

Tony Burman's resignation after more than 13 years as manager followed Dartford's play-off defeat at home to Braintree.

Mr Irving said: "It's been very emotional, stressful and challenging but we've done the job the way we wanted to and we move on.

"We were very disappointed that it had come but we always said Tony would know when the time was right and felt that time was now.

"We were very supportive of that and although disappointed, accept we've had a fantastic time and we move onto a new challenge.

"There was a lot of interest immediately. One particular manager came in straight away and said 'if anything changes, let me know' and as soon as it was announced last Thursday, within a minute we had the first applicant. Over the next couple of days there were 20 applicants and that was without advertising.

"I don't normally read the forum but one or two of the names they're mentioning are names we have spoken to.

Tony Burman on the touchline during his final game as Dartford boss Picture: Steve Crispe
Tony Burman on the touchline during his final game as Dartford boss Picture: Steve Crispe

"But for me, Tony and the rest of the board, the strongest candidates were when Adam and Jamie were brought together as a pair. They spoke to us separately and we initially preferred a one and two (manager and assistant) but they convinced us they wanted to work together as joint-managers.

"It has worked very successfully at other clubs and I don't see any reason why it shouldn't work here."

Dartford moved quickly to appoint Burman's successors - key at a time of year when so many players are out of contract.

Mr Irving said: "It was important we made a quick decision - and the right decision. Waiting any longer wouldn't have necessarily attracted any better applicants.

"We had applicants coming in from managers in the Icelandic first division for instance, that nobody had heard of, no real track record but just fancied applying.

"We had ex-pro footballers who are coaching and assistant managers in the Football League who thought they would dip their toe in the water but what we wanted was to be sure we had somebody, as we have done for many years, who came in and there was stability moving forward, somebody that trusted us for the future that they could come in and know they'd be given a chance.

"Many clubs don't give managers a chance but over 25 years, we've only had three managers.

"We wanted the right people who were going to be with the club for a good period of time to allow them to settle in and allow us to build something for the future.

"The two of them knew this was a place they could go and not be interfered with, not have somebody picking a side or signing players, who they knew they could trust working with.

"Jamie and Adam know me and (co-chairman) Dave Skinner very well, they know how we work and they easily bought into what we want to do - not just in terms of the first team but the player pathway and keeping an eye on young players coming through. Jamie is a youth coach and knows the value of bringing forward young players."

Burman's departure signals the end of an era but change may turn out to be just what Dartford needed.

Mr Irving said: "One of the big things was (keeping) that special feeling, which at times felt it could be tarnished by results and relegation, or by not succeeding in this third year. That was important as well.

"Yes, everybody was hurting (after the Braintree defeat) and there was an overspill of emotion on the day but the depth of support after the event... Hopefully now the management team has been announced there's a degree of support for what we've done."

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